Nine games into the season, here is my personal view of the Pacer organization from top to bottom with a few references and examples from last year. I am sure there will be some disagreement and that is great. That’s why we are all Pacer fans. (just a note – I have been a fan since the ABA days and went to many games at the Coliseum – been thru all the ups and downs) This is my first time posting anything, anywhere (probably technology challenged), so be easy on me.
Herb Simon: He has been a wonderful owner since he and Mel purchased the Pacers in 1983, but he is hard to figure out. He has never been an owner that wants to be in the spotlight. He has always depended on and hired the people to run the franchise. That has worked for the most part. Now, though, I really wish he would get more involved and hold more people accountable. The only time he has anything public to say, it always seems that he just agrees with whatever Larry Bird has previously said. To me, that just doesn’t seem right. When everyone agrees like this, it makes me wonder even more.
Larry Bird: Great player! The jury is still out on his management skills. He made a great trade with Toronto and a great trade to get DC and Posey, but his handling of the Tinsley situation, in my opinion, was not good. The biggest problem I see in running this franchise is in the way he values the assets (players). He could have traded Tinsley but he valued him much higher than other GMs did. It seems that the other GMs have views on players that do not agree with Bird’s views . I think that is holding up any potential trades. He wants too much in return. That might be good, but is it practical and realistic? He has said on numerous occasions that there is interest in our players around the league, but not much ever happens. Why? He seems to be straight forward during his press conferences, but you really have to wonder what is really going on behind the scenes. He is very proud and will not admit mistakes. He is also demanding and stubborn. In a position such as his, you must correct mistakes before they get out of hand. Forget pride! If it is wrong, correct it!
David Morway: Seems to be very knowledgeable. Not sure of his management skills. A real “yes” man.
Jim “Obi non coachie” O’Brien: Wow! Where do I start? I could very easily write pages about him but I’ll try to keep it short. He and D’Antoni are the only coaches who don’t know you win with defense. His offense is, well, offensive. (Examples from last year) I can’t tell you how many times in the middle of an offensive set that all 5 players are above the foul line. Not just for a few seconds either. After the play falls apart someone heaves up a contested shot with no one underneath to rebound. His rotations are nonsensical. It never fails that when the Pacers are playing well and in sync, he would insert Murphy back into the game and their momentum comes to a screeching halt. But then again it is irrelevant when the Pacers play well. It just does not matter to him. I don’t think much if anything has changed this year. He also is very big on stats. That is when it is to his advantage (once again think Murphy last year – good pts and reb numbers but one of the worst +/- in the league - and he is sitting on the bench this year in NJ). He tries to destroy the confidence of players by playing mind games with them and holding them out of games for his nonsensical reasons (ie; Ford (last year), S Jones, D Jones, McRoberts (last year), Diener, Head, Price, etc.) Why is D Jones not playing? JOB says he can’t shoot! Huh? Last year he started 26 games and played 25 minutes a game. He had a better shooting percentage than B Rush and averaged more pts than him. He is also a career 38% 3point shooter. Good enough to start last year to not playing at all this year! What is going on with AJ Price? How can “the best player on the team in preseason” go to inactive? Why? The Pacers have a lot of talent on the team, but is it being used properly and is he getting the best out of it? I think a coach’s main job is to mesh and adapt to use the talents of the team to its max. In my opinion, he is trying to fit everything in to his system no matter the talent (like trying to put a square peg into a round hole). He shows no flexibility at all. It is definitely showing because the players just seem confused with his system. JOB is definitely not a people person. Just watch an interview with him. He is very condescending when he talks to others. He is also very egotistical and a power freak, especially in practices. I have heard this from multiple sources. He has said on many occasions that players must earn their minutes. This is very hypocritical when it seems he doesn’t really give them a chance to earn their minutes. If he practiced what he preached then he would not be coaching because he has not earned anything in my opinion. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. I am not a JOB fan. There are reasons he did not last at his other coaching positions, but those were obviously disregarded by Bird.
Late insert: The article in today’s Star by Mike Wells stated that Josh McRobert’s production is down and that “management” has noticed it as well. I have to take issue with that! JOB previously said what he expected out of Josh – rebounding, good decisive passing, and running the floor with energy. From what I can see, all of those have been met check, check, and check. He has done exactly what was asked of him plus he seems at times to be the only Pacer underneath still fighting for rebounds when the others aren’t even around. He is averaging 6.6 rebounds, 45% fg shooting, 36% 3pt shooting, almost 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block, plus 5.3 points per game. Did anyone really expect that this year? Come on, those numbers are better than some of the other players who have played more minutes. I’m sorry but I just don’t buy that at all.
Bird – Morway – O’Brien trio: Now this is interesting. This is the “old boys network” at its best. I think there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than we know about. Their motto seems to be “agree with us or get out”. Just ask Mel Daniels, Sam Perkins, and Lester Conner. My thoughts of them range from good managers to a dysfunctional family to the Three Stooges to, well, a very strange working relationship. When there seems to be no logical answer to their actions, sometimes this is the only answer I can come up with - Morway loves Bird, Bird loves O’Brien, O’Brien loves well, himself???!!??? (insert sarcasm sign here)
Granger: Loads of talent – playing out of control – turnover prone – forces too many shots – playing better defense
Hibbert: Very talented and improving – could be more decisive and assertive in the post – good passer and shot blocker
Collison: Very good PG – good shooter – great defender in college – needs to be on the floor at end of games
McRoberts: Playing well – great energy – good shot blocker – good role player
Rush: Playing much better and with more assertiveness than last year – streaky shooter – decent defender
Ford: People say he is playing well this year (sorry I don’t see it) – dribbles WAY too much – out of control – not a good shooter
Dunleavy: Playing much better than last year – hot and cold shooter – not much on defense
George: Has played okay this year when given the chance – good disruptive defender – good shooter
Hansbrough: Disruptive and physical – energy guy – excellent role player – plays well when given minutes
Price: Hasn’t been given a chance to show what he can do – had good rookie season and preseason
Stephenson: Inactive – excellent potential
Foster, S Jones, D Jones, Posey: Jury out – low minutes – bench / role players
Future: What about 2011-2012? If Bird is retained, will he keep JOB? If he does will there be a revolt and mutiny by Pacer fans? Since the current Pacer players have been brought in and drafted to “fit the JOB system”, what happens if Bird and JOB are not here? This is a huge question. The effects are enormous, especially for DC. JOB says he is having a hard time picking up the system but will it all change next year? If so, will this be a “lost” year for DC, George, Lance, and the other young Pacers of the future? I think the 2011-2012 summer off season will be extremely critical to the future of the franchise. Also Bird’s 3 year plan will be over and they will have lots of cap room to sign free agents. That is great. But have you looked at the free agent list for that summer? There is very, very little to choose from. Anthony, Yao, plus maybe a few others are the only big names next year. They are not coming here! Needless to say that will be a very interesting summer.
Players to keep and go forward with: Granger, Hibbert, Collison, Rush, Hansbrough, McRoberts, George, Stephenson, Price
Management to go forward with: Bird (undecided / possibly)
Changes: JOB and coaching staff gone (hopefully) Foster, Jones, Jones, Dunleavy, Posey (all most likely gone)
Being realistic, I do not expect much to change this year with the Pacers. It would be nice if I were wrong and things do turn around this year. I think we all hope that.
Here’s hoping for a quick return of Pacer prominence, peace in the world, and jobs for everyone (myself included).